An independent animator and IIT Bombay IDC student Divakar Kuppan, who is well known for his animated short film The Fox of the Palmgrove, is coming up with another exciting animated short film titled Tobacco and the Flower which is currently in the pre-production stage.
The film is based on a short story by Apoorva Jnaan, a Bengaluru-based indie musician, writer, and filmmaker. The story features an old shepherd and his cravings for Tobacco.
Speaking about the story of the film Kuppan told Animation Xpress, “The film tries to explore the intricacies of ecology, masculinity, and xenophobia through an old shepherd in a metaphorical way. The film will probably be made in Kannada language with very few dialogues and will convey most of the narration visually. The film will be made in a traditional hand-drawn animation as we feel its aesthetics will do justice to this story.”
Sharing his thoughts about what made him come up with this story, Jnaan said, “I am a very curious person, literally everything interests me and naturally I was very curious about the lives of shepherds and cattle grazers and how they spend their time everyday and their lives apart, so I traveled to some villages spent some time, spoke to shepherds. Honestly, with all the difficulties that they deal with on an everyday basis, they are among the most emotionally content people, well at least most of them, so this inspired me to write this story. I just added the spin of philosophy and psychedelics to it cause I thought that would give the perfect metaphoric approach to convey what I want to convey through the story.”
Kuppan exclusively shared with AnimationXpress some of the concept artworks of this upcoming film.
Kuppan is associating with Jnaan for the second time. Earlier this year they both worked on a 16 minute animated short film, For Mahesh. The film is written and directed by Dr Lucy Baker, with Kuppan being the animation director and Sumit Chavan providing the animation for the film. Jnaan served as the voice director. The film is about auto-rickshaw wallahs, technologies, and tensions of everyday Indian urban mobility.
Sharing the experience while working on the film For Mahesh, Kuppan commented, “Personally, For Mahesh was quite a learning experience for me. That was my first animation film where I managed to work as a team. The project taught me a lot about the perks of working as a team. I must thank my professor Nina Sabnani and the film’s director Dr Lucy Baker for believing in me and getting me on board on that project.”
He further added, “The client came to us with their research material and we didn’t have any story or script in hand. It was a great experience to come up with a story out of several discussions on chat and phone with the director. So it took around two months to arrive at the storyboard stage from developing the story and the script. Since we spent a good amount of time on the preproduction, the production stage was quite easier. Chavan grasped the storyboard nicely and has done a great job in animating the project. We believed in smart work and it has helped us to deliver on the deadline. We animated and edited the project in less than 50 working days. Considering the animation duration and budget of the project, we decided on the weightage of animation.”
On asking what are the challenges he has faced as a creative director, Kuppan said, “For a guy from a rural background, it’s always been a big challenge in convincing the parents. It’s very difficult to make them understand independent animation filmmaking. Other than that, I have never seen making films as a challenge. I always enjoyed visualising a film in the head; it’s an ability to see something unborn inside your skull. I think that’s the foremost ability I always care to nurture upon. You see a lot of things in your head, but when you see certain things repeatedly, those are the things you start visualising as a film. Once you think the film is ready in your head, that’s the moment you start putting pen on paper. This practice is very important for artistic animation filmmaking. For the rest, if you follow the script, you’re on the safer side.”
Kuppan is also working on an untitled graphic novel in collaboration with a Mumbai based writer Himanshu Vora which will take a few years for its visual realization. As for Tobacco and the Flower, he plans to release it by end of this year.